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Author Topic: Please help me improve the ENnies  (Read 3524 times)
Denise
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Posts: 109


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« on: September 25, 2005, 05:55:30 AM »

Hey gals'n'guys!

I'm going to open up the ENnies for submissions year-round in the hopes of reducing the stress levels of the judges, and make submitting product easier on the publishers. I'm also contemplating an S&H fee of $5/product sent to the Submissions Coordinator in order to close that gaping financial hole in our budget.

Anyhow, I would like to hear from publishers who have some ideas on how to improve the ENnies. I was quite pleased to see some Indies nominated, and hope to keep The Forge involved, so welcome your opinions.

Possible topics (but I'm sure there are more) include:
-Judge Selection & Eligibility Criteria
-Submission Process
-Categories
-Voting
-The ENnies at Gen Con Indy
-The Ceremony
-The Awards (hardware)
-Fund Raising
-Media/Advertising
-Do the ENnie Awards fulfill their mandate of celebrating excellence in tabletop RPGs?

If you have any feedback on the Awards, please pipe in!  I wish I'd had more time to drop by The Forge's booth during Gen Con Indy, but then again, every time I did so, each table was full, so I guess you must've done well!
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Luke
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2005, 09:05:45 AM »

Hi Denise,

I'm really glad you posted this. As a participant -- and a big fat loser -- I had some issues with the way the awards categories were set up and the way the voting worked.

As it stands now, the ENnies are essentially a popularity contest. This makes the barrier to entry high for small press publishers and makes the barrier to victory impossible. It's nice to be nominated by the judges, I'll admit. But after that, there's just no way for my fan base to compete with the fans of titles like Ars Magica or Warhammer Fantasy or Vampire/WoD.

I propose reorganizing the awards into two over-arching categories: Fan-based (aka the popularity contest) and panel-based. For the panel-based stuff, in addition to your ENnies judges, you could get "celebrity" judges from the industry to cast votes.

Next step down, I'd break the categories into Small Press -- runs of less than 2000 -- The Big Boys and d20. Within each of those subheadings you'd have Best Game, Best Interior Design/Art, Best Cover, Best Writing, Best Supplement, Best Free/PDF Product, Best Website, Best Publisher. (Eliminating Best Rules and Best Monster Product.)

So you'd have on one hand:
Fan Nominated Titles -> Fan voting via category: Best Game, etc.

Judge Nominated Titles -> Judge voting via category: Best Game, etc.

So it'd be possible for a game to win on both sides. But it'd also be far more likely that a small or unknown game could get picked up by the judges and win on merits of quality and originality rather than be at the mercy of popularity.

Honestly, I don't know if I'd participate in the ENnies again unless there were some changes. I certainly wouldn't recommend that other smaller presses invest the time and energy. There is seemingly no chance of winning as it stands now.

my 2
-Luke
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2005, 04:37:46 PM »

Okay, dissenting opinion from Luke's. First off, logistically, I was at the award ceremony, and the last thing they need is more categories. They managed (I think) to come in under time, but only because they were really churning people through.

Second and more important, I'm not interested in being cut a break for being small. I want to compete directly with the big dogs. That's more important to me than winning something. Call me crazy, but I went into the awards ceremony with speeches prepared, and not just as a mental exercise. But even having lost ... so what? Do I get a "loser" graphic forcibly placed on all of my future printings? No. What I get is a huge sales spike from having been nominated, the chance to talk to lots of great people, and the knowledge that my game was judged worthy to compete at that level.

When I win one of these awards, I want to have beat out my competitors ... all my competitors.
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2005, 09:07:01 AM »

I have to agree with Tony.  I've no interest in being relegated to the Minor League.
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Denise
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Posts: 109


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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2005, 02:36:39 PM »

Thanks for piping in guys! I hope to hear more comments, and further discussion. I'm taking each post seriously, and throwing it all in to my mental mix of possibilities. Here's some of my thoughts on some of the points raised thus far:

Timing of the ceremony/ # of Categories:
-We've been trying to keep under 20 categories each year in order to keep the ceremony as mercifully short as possible. This year we started at around 21h15 IIRC, and finished around 22h30. If we can keep the ceremony to two hours or less, I'm a happy camper. Did you find that we were really "churning" or rushing the presentations? Admittedly, we requested the publishers keep their speeches to a specified time limit, but I hope we didn't seem rushed.
-Luke, I noticed you advocated the elimination of best rules and monster product. I'm interested in your reasons behind this.
-What did you guys think of the Production Values category? I had meant it to be a catchall for all the nebulous factors like editing, graphic design & layout, paper feel, etc., but wonder if publishers give a hoot or not about it. What about the other categories? Are they relevent? If you could add or subtract a couple, what would they be?

Small Press vs The Big Boys, and the Popularity Contest factor
-This has been a perennial discussion, but the overall consensus has been that most publishers want to game in the same playground as the big boys.
-Besides having one or three categories for d20 only, we really want d20 to compete with everyone else. With the glut of d20 material on the market, trust me, being a d20 publisher offers no advantage!
-Having seen in multiple years past where nobody, small-press publishers won against the likes of Wizards of the Coast, Malhavoc Press and Green Ronin, I disagree that victory is impossible. I'm one of those winners, so maybe I'm a tad biased in that regard, I admit.
-The ENnies are a fan award, so to take that away from them and start splitting them into peer/panel vs. fan would detract from their purpose, methinks. The mechanism by which a panel of judges select the five nominees already helps negate the popularity contest issue. After that it's all about how familiar the fans are with the product, and how good the product is. The Diana Jones Awards already address the niche for not-fan awards, I find. This brings me to...

Luke = Big Fat Loser
(his words, not mine- it just looked like a great title, sorry ;))
-I know this'll sound trite, but seriously, it's all about the nomination. Sure, it's great to win, and I love my trophy, but for most of us (smaller/indy publishers-when my product was nominated, it was the third one we had ever produced) it's all about the acknowledgement by a panel of judges of the quality of your product amongst hundreds of entries. That ego stroke alone made it worthwhile! It hurts to sit in the audience and watch your "competitors" go up and claim the awards, I know, but being part of that crowd is still an honour.  I hardly consider any nominee a loser! 
-Then there's the marketing push. I've made a great deal of effort into advertising who the nominees were, especially at GenCon Indy. We had all the nominees for Best Game, Best d20 Game and Best Publisher on display, and the flyer listed not only the nominees, but which booth they could be found at and a web site listing. More than one person stopped by the booth, picked up the flyer, and commented upon it being their new shopping list. The partnership deal with DriveThruRPG gave smaller publishers a chance to increase their visibility and play with the big boys on their own turf, too. That's a nice publicity push for any product!
-If you tally up the cost to produce six submissions (printing cost, shipping & handling, and 10 minutes of your time filling out the entry form), I suspect that the financial gains alone derived from the additional publicity and attention garnered by an ENnie nomination make it worth the effort.

PS, Tony:
How was your seat with the Atlas Games krewe? Did your friend quake in jealousy?
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Justin D. Jacobson
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Posts: 186


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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2005, 02:16:03 PM »

I agree with Tony and the others. I want to compete with the big boys. If anything, I'd try to make it easier/more palatable to get those publishers who didn't compete (e.g., WotC) to enter their products.

I have to say, I think this year's ENnies were superb! The categories and voting were great; the ceremony was top-notch. I'm not just talkin'; I genuinely mean it.

I also concur that the nomination itself had great value for me. The notoriety and sales spike cannot be underestimated.

Honestly, my advice is keep up the good work and don't change a thing.

My only possible suggestion is to limit the total number of products a publisher can submit. It doesn't impact me, but I know the judge "workload" was a big concern. I would think that's one way to pare it down some, and I suspect that some publishers simply sent in everything.
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Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
Denise
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2005, 05:38:32 PM »

My only possible suggestion is to limit the total number of products a publisher can submit. It doesn't impact me, but I know the judge "workload" was a big concern. I would think that's one way to pare it down some, and I suspect that some publishers simply sent in everything.

You know, I was talking about this subject with the current (2005) batch of judges, and as a general rule, their attitude seems to be "bring it on!"  There are a lot of products to evaluate, but I hope that by opening up submissions as early as November 1st, it'll offer them a decent chance to spread the burden over some time, rather than being forced to take weeks off work in May and June!
Also, I'm thinking of enstating a $5/product entered (if you use the Submissions Coordinator) shipping and handling fee.  Last year we asked for $10/publisher, and it barely made a dent in the shipping costs.  Whereas if we say $5/product, it might encourage some cheaper publishers to cherrypick their products a little more.  I don't know.  I hate to have to add a potential barrier for some of the smaller guys to enter, but I'm sick of having to do a bunch of fund raising just to cover our shipping expenses!  I'd rather use that money to go towards promoting the awards!

While I have your attention...  If you were nominated again, what do you think of me trying to rent the hall in which the awards are held for an additional hour (or two) after the ceremony?  Do you think you (or people in general) would want to stick around to celebrate and/or schmooze?  What about bringing in some entertainment afterwards that might bring in additional fans to the Awards (like The Great Lukeski?)  If we could get someone like Wil Wheaton to MC, do you think it'd make a difference?  Can you think of another gamer celebrity who might serve well as MC?

Keep it coming, y'all! 
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Justin D. Jacobson
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Posts: 186


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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2005, 06:02:44 PM »

First things first, my prior post should have "cannot" to "should not" or "underestimated" to "overestimated." Take your pick.

As for your most recent questions, I think the $5/product is a good idea. Frankly, that seems to make the most sense. I don't think it would harm the smaller publishers, because they likely are submitting only one or two products anyway.

I wouldn't try to make more out of the ENnies celebration than it was last year. A very nice affair. Unfortunately, time is so short at Gen Con as it is. For my own part, I was racing to get out of there to get in some gaming with friends. I wouldn't bite off more than you can chew, IMHO.

I don't think you need a "celebrity" emcee--just someone with personality. Piratecat did a great job.
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Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
Luke
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Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2005, 09:14:13 PM »

I agree with Tony and the others. I want to compete with the big boys. If anything, I'd try to make it easier/more palatable to get those publishers who didn't compete (e.g., WotC) to enter their products.

But there's no actual competition possible in a popularity contest. If you win, it's because the category was contested and the other games cannibalized votes, not because your game was better.


Anyway, I hope I don't come across as a sore loser. It don't matter none to me. But if you're asking for feedback, it'd be nice to have the games judged on quality, not history. That said, if they're fan awards, so be it.

Denise -- regarding Best Rules and Best Monster Product.

I'll start with the second first: I know the "monster book" is the stereotypical rpg supplement, but by separating them out into their own category, I feel you're diluting the truly good products. It shouldn't be acceptable to just have a monster book anymore. Such books should push the envelope and bring something new to the table -- they should be good supplements before they're good monster books.

And Best Rules is just a ridiculous category. How can you separate the Best Rules and Best Game category? What's a game without rules? I certainly don't know. If a game can't win the Best Game category on merit of its rules alone, then perhaps we should be writing fiction and gunning for Nebulas.

-Luke
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Denise
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Posts: 109


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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2005, 04:32:25 AM »

You know Luke, I've been pushing to fold the Best Monster/Adversary category into the Best Supplement category.  I agree with you wholeheartedly with your reasons as well.  Besides, so many monster books blur the lines between campaign setting, location area...  they should compete amongst the BS (<g>) category. 

That said, I do want to encourage the proviso that should a category be overwhelmed with entries of one particular genre, there is the possibility to split said category.  For example, we're opening up the Aid/Accessory category to miniatures manufacturers.  If over a dozen entries are received from six or more publishers, and the rest of the category had over a dozen entries, we create a Best Miniatures category.  I also want to fold Best Campaign Setting/Setting Supplement into the BS category. 

As for the Best Rules category, I think that it, just like Writing, Art, Cartography and Production Values are all components of what make up a great game.  Rules alone don't make for a great game, all of the aforementioned qualities combine to create a product greater than the sum of its parts. 

Denise -- regarding Best Rules and Best Monster Product.

I'll start with the second first: I know the "monster book" is the stereotypical rpg supplement, but by separating them out into their own category, I feel you're diluting the truly good products. It shouldn't be acceptable to just have a monster book anymore. Such books should push the envelope and bring something new to the table -- they should be good supplements before they're good monster books.

And Best Rules is just a ridiculous category. How can you separate the Best Rules and Best Game category? What's a game without rules? I certainly don't know. If a game can't win the Best Game category on merit of its rules alone, then perhaps we should be writing fiction and gunning for Nebulas.

-Luke
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Denise
Member

Posts: 109


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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2005, 04:43:29 AM »

Just in case you didn't see the smallprint in my .sig, judge nominations have started over on ENWorld.  We'll be voting for them for a week and a bit, next years' judges will be announced the 14th of October, submissions period will open November 1st.

I'm encouraging publishers to adhere to the following submission deadline guidelines in order to give the judges plenty of time to evaluate product.  Also, it might help save costs- rather than using courriers, USPS should work just fine.

Release DateSuggested Shipping Date
June-October 2005November 15th 2005
November 2005-February 2006March 15th 2006
March-May 2006June 15th 2006

Is anyone here with a fulfilment house?  If so, who?  Do they offer review copies?
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
Justin D. Jacobson
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Posts: 186


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« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2005, 01:14:41 PM »

Several Forgites (Forgians?) are hooked up with Indie Press Revolution, and -- yes -- they do handle review copy requests. In fact, they handled shipments for this past year's ENnies as well.
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Facing off against Captain Ahab, Dr. Fu Manchu, and Prof. Moriarty? Sure!

Passages - Victorian era, literary-based high adventure!
Denise
Member

Posts: 109


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« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2005, 05:48:31 AM »

Several Forgites (Forgians?) are hooked up with Indie Press Revolution, and -- yes -- they do handle review copy requests. In fact, they handled shipments for this past year's ENnies as well.

Good to know, and yay for IPR!

Someone on ENWorld has been saying that offering the earlier submissions could be detrimental to smaller publishers, and I would like to hear what y'all have to say on the subject.  I'm trying to offer as many options as possible from which people can choose, and need all the feedback I can get.

Also, the voting for the 5 judge positions has begun. There's 17 nominees, some of whom have been judges before, most of whom haven't, all with varying degrees of experience and game systems played. Heck, there's even one guy whose main platform was that he hates d20! I don't want this to come across as a recruitment drive for ENWorld, but you can only vote if you are a member IIRC. I think it's important for you guys to participate in the process as much as possible, including judge selection, so hope you'll drop by EN World and cast your vote.
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An ENnie vote has as much meaning as a dollar bill - that is, it's worth what you choose to value it at. -clash

The Annual Gen Con EN World RPG Awards ("The ENnies")
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